Performance Version of Model 3 Rekindles Enthusiasm for Tesla

By · July 25, 2018

Tesla Model 3

For most of this year, reviews of the Tesla Model 3 have been mixed. The small Tesla EV earned praise for handling and acceleration. However, the overall build quality and the reliability of high-tech dashboard controls received lower marks. Those reviews from Edmunds and Consumer Reports for example, fell short of the overwhelmingly positive response to previous Tesla vehicles. Further doubts about the company came in the form of concerns about Model 3 production capacity and questionable tweets from Elon Musk. Fortunately, there’s a new reason to get excited again about Tesla’s capabilities to produce compelling automobiles: the first reviews of the Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Performance version.

Motor Trend recently took the dual-motor Model 3 on a spin for nearly an hour. The praise from Motor Trend could not have been higher. “In maybe 120 wheel revolutions, a high-performance hierarchy has been rattled,” wrote Kim Reynolds, the magazine’s testing director. “The European marques perennially atop the sport sedan podium are about to have trapdoors release beneath them.” Ah, that feels like the gool ol' days.

Reynolds acknowledged that the brief trip in L.A. traffic was not sufficient for a thorough evaluation, but was impressed with the dual-motor Model 3’s “hair-trigger potency for leaping ahead or around whatever's in the way.” At the same time, he said that the model revealed how Tesla might already be adjusting features to address early criticism for the Model 3. For example, some control of the windshield wiper and cruise control has moved from virtual buttons on the large touchscreen to more accessible analog access via the control stalk and steering-wheel scroll wheel. Also, the rear seat has improved cushioning.

These improvements might come courtesy of the dual-motor Model 3’s higher price. Yes,
it can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in about 3.5 seconds, but the faster Model 3’s price tag can approach $80,000. That moves the Model 3 further away from its central purpose—to make the Tesla brand accessible to the hoi polloi with a $35,000 target price for the 220-mile version. The new, pricier version is now available but the affordable version is still about six to nine months away from production.

Until that happens, EV enthusiasts can take pride in reviews of the dual-motor Model 3, like the one from Automobile magazine. The publication might have qualms about how “the front end feels somewhat out of sync with the rear end,” but reviewer Nelson Ireson can still enjoy the adrenaline rush provided by a Tesla. “If there’s one thing the Model 3 Performance AWD does exceedingly well, it’s accelerate,” he wrote. “That 3.5-second-to-60 number feels conservative.”

Moreover, EV enthusiasts have one more car that demonstrates the impressive capabilities of electric propulsion—not only to pack a wallop of power but to provide the best in daily transportation. “It’s quiet, reasonably smooth, and simple to operate,” writes Automobile’s Ireson. He says there’s no pain at the pump, and “when you’re driving for duty rather than fun, it’s just a comfortable, reasonably well-equipped, electric sedan—in other words, a perfect daily driver for an enthusiast.”

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